Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hope and Change?

[Not as sincere as we thought?]
First there was the reneging on repealing the 2003 Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. This was a central point in Obama's campaign. It was an issue of fairness and social justice. It came up in every candidate debate and Obama lambasted his opponent over it over and over.

He reneged on this central campaign plank on 22 November, 16 days after he was elected in part on account of it. The reason given, "the middle of a recession is no time to raise taxes", was a word for word quote of what John Freakin' McCain said during those same debates. It was a betrayal of those who supported Obama because he stood for social justice.

Which raises a large doubt about Mr. Obama's sincerity during the debates and during the campaign generally. And now.

Last year Mr. Obama got a huge boost toward the Democratic nomination by winning the South Carolina primary, largely on the strength of a huge turnout by Black voters, 96% of whom voted for Mr. Obama. When Bill Clinton pointed out that Jesse Jackson had won the South Carolina primary too, a huge stink was made about Clinton having said that. Clinton's point was that the Black voters of South Carolina would vote for a brown paper bag if it were running for president.

The Obama campaign then made a high-minded-sounding but hypocritical call for race to play no part in the election. No part except for millions of Blacks voting for Obama solely on the basis of race. It became the premise of the election that Blacks could vote on the basis of race but no one else could.

Still, no one could fault the premise that race should not enter into politics. It was to be a color-blind administration. Or so we were told. There were those of us who hoped that having a Black president would mark the beginning of the end for this fetish about skin color that has dogged America for centuries.

Martin Luther King looked forward to a time when Americans would judge one another "not by the color of their skin but by the content of their characters". In nominating Judge Sotomayor the Obama administration has betrayed not just the living who supported him but also the memory and legacy of Doctor King.

Judge Sotomayor has made it abundantly clear that she finds no fault with a racist society. She just wants people of her gender and color to get a bigger piece of the racist pie.
Now we find - again - that so far from wanting to abolish racism, the Obama administration thinks racism is just fine so long as it is to their political advantage. It is yet another betrayal of what the candidate stood for and what the President does not.

The war in Iraq, which Obama said he would end if elected, shows no sign of ending. Instead the bombings continue and American casualties and deaths continue to mount. Just as they did under Bush.

No troop withdrawals have been announced or even intimated. Obama promised radical changes from what he called the Bush administration's "mismanagement" of the conduct of the wars. Once elected he reversed himself . He kept in office Bush's Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. The very Secretary of Defense whom he previously claimed had done the mismanaging.

We voted for an end to the war and what did we get? The same war run by the same people.
We voted for Obama and now not only is there is no Change, we no longer even have the Hope that the new administration will be any better.

Same tax policy as Bush, same war policy.

The President's Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, clearly after extensive consultations with the White House, recently announced that the problem in the Middle East is the expansion of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank. Under the Obama Administration, no expansion will be permitted under any pretext whatever, she said.

This is exactly the policy Obama the candidate assured us Obama the President would not adopt. He told us he would stand by Israel. He cited the same reasons we do - a small beleaguered democracy with its civilians subject to constant attack has the right and duty to defend its citizens. Israel deserves, and will have, our full support he said. Many, including me, supported him on the basis of that assurance. The betrayal, the double cross, is explicit. And personal.

What the settlers are doing in the settlements is having children and building homes. The only thing anyone can find objectionable about that is that they are Jews. No one would object, no one does object, when Arabs have children and build homes in the West Bank. No one objects when Arabs have children and build homes in Israel either. The objection is only when Jews do the same things in the same places. This is the clearest litmus test for racism one can posit.

And the administration has made it clear which side it takes - the racist side. The administration has chosen to help enforce the "No Jews Allowed" sign the Arabs have posted on the West Bank.

The sole objection the world has to the settlements is that the Arabs don't want Jews living on what they claim is their land. All over the world, from Paris to Santiago and Sydney, natives and immigrants mix together, and those who become angry and violent about it are condemned as racists. Only when the victims of racism are Jews is a different standard applied.

But whose land is it? Isn't the problem that the Jews are raising their families on Arab land?

The case is similar to that of the riots accompanying the desegregation of Little Rock High School in Arkanas in 1957. The Whites pointed out with great vehemence that it was their school, and that the N____s had no business studying algebra and American history there. Half of which was true. The Whites of Little Rock had paid for and built the school and for decades only their children went there. It was their school.

But it was the rankest racism to say that their neighbors could not, must not, study there because they were of another people. The argument was made that the desegregation should be stopped because the Whites of Arkansas were so opposed and racist that there could never be peace if desegregation were imposed. That is, violent racists had to be accommodated precisely because they were violent.

The Arkansas Whites said, "It's our school. Blacks can't come here." The Palestinian Arabs say, "It's our land. Jews can't come here." See which side the Obama administration has chosen.

President Eisenhower was of a different mind. The Eisenhower administration made a principled decision and sent federal troops to Little Rock to enforce the desegregation orders of the federal court. Rather than accommodate violent racists, Eisenhower confronted them with troops and bayonets.

Principles being apparently irrelevant to their politics,
the Obama administration, now that the parties are Jews and Arabs instead of Blacks and Whites, has chosen to accommodate the violent racists, not the people wanting to study algebra and history and raise their children in peace.


  1. Damien10:06 AM

    I predicted Obama to be useless from day one, do I get a badge? Everyone, even in Ireland (as ridiculous as it sounds) were jumping on the Obama "change" bandwagon too. Seriously though, his campaign was political spin at its worst, the money pumped into his campaign exposes an undemocratic contradiction in the American electoral system and the power lies with money and lobbys (I am being Captain Obvious here), but I was surprised with the support Obama managed to gain. In one sense I am delighted to see his idle rhetoric run thin as I love the feel of vindication, but unfortunately its a real shame for America. He always was a man behind a huge spin machine that could deliver a brilliantly dull & idle speech full of empty rhetoric. I hope I am wrong on that assertion but that doesn't seem likely. I am not getting to the whole Israel v Palestine argument because that seems just pointless to drag up again but I agree that he has had nothing but short-comings in social reform and foreign policy, failed promises. It'll be interesting to see how he deals with the Dear Leader's latest activity, that country is crippled and the only possible means they have (apart from a reluctant China) of attaining finance to prop up the regime is selling their nuclear technology, a very worrying prospect which could see a new arms race. NK has to be brought back to the negotiation table at all costs, a unanimous international strategy is needed, China will hopefully exert influence, it's not in their interests to have Japan and S.Korea seeking nuclear deterrence, this will be the major diplomatic challenge of Obama's regime, although PROC's role will be important.

  2. Damien, thanks for your comment. I had not realized that there was no segue into Obama's recent reneging on his campaign promise to support Israel. I have added one. Tell me if it makes more sense now.

  3. Damien12:00 PM

    It made sense. I just chose to ignore getting drawn into another Israel/Palestine argument, the change in focus on Israel is just more idle rhetoric from the administration which is more appealing to the international community, cold diplomacy. Joe Biden is an ardent supporter of Israel and the Zionist lobby in America is strong so I can't see much change in actual policy, I wouldn't be worried if I were you (I am me though and am worried) but I agree with you about Obama, he has a lot to prove and has so far reneged on nearly all election promises. I think Sotomayor's appointment was also a careful piece of diplomacy. Sotomayor made a remark at a talk almost 10years ago, which was silly and racist, but I don't think this defines her whole character and she has what is considered a strong judicial career under both democratic and republican administrations, the Republican's criticism's of her is hypocritical in fairness, the appointment could have been far worse from a Republican perspective.

  4. Christy1:54 PM

    Of course his campaign was political spin from the start - how can it possibly be any different in the United States where only a slim majority don't believe the world was created in a couple of days by a big white bearded man in the sky and/or that the earth is 6,000 years old? If you complain about the way Obama was forced to wage his campaign then we go down a very low road indeed.

    Obama won on the premise that he would have a democratic controlled congress through which to enact change. The considerable changes the Obama administration has brought in has been the shutdown of GITMO, the banning of torture, and has severely weakened the power of lobbiests in Congress. He has revolutionised the car industry with the new fuel efficiency standards, which are equivilent to the closing down of over a hundred coal power plants per annum. He has lifted the ban on stem cell research and passed a massive stimulus package which greatly benefits the lower and middle classes over the wealthy elite who had a field day in the Bush/Cheny years. And all of this during the greatest economic crisis in 70 years.

    So saying he has done 'f' all is either ignorant or retarded, depending on how you view American politics. Judge the man how he performs within the system he operates, not the system you think he should be operating under.

  5. Christy2:11 PM

    On second thoughts maybe 'ignorant and retarded' is a bit strong, but you get the idea. There has been change!

  6. Damien4:58 PM

    Christy, do you have any idea how much changes Obama promised and how little he has delivered.
    And your point about the stimulus package is so wrong and factually incorrect that it made me chuckle. His stimulus bill squandered loads of money on silly projects like a census which could exceed 3 billion dollars, 1/2 billion on building a new Homeland Security building, billions on summer job projects for the youth, 600m on hybrid cars for federal employees and so on... Here's a link to some of the more wasteful aspects of his stimulus
    Social change my arse, more like wasteful debt for the American taxpayer to bare the burden of, prolonging the recession and landing the government with a crippling debt. I am all for government spending and a high taxation system, not during a recession on needless luxuries though where taxation reform has not happened on a significant level to make this spending viable. This "spend your way out of the recession" is dangerous, reckless and stupid. Not to mention the lack of a withdrawal from Iraq so far, Jacks initial points, windfall profit taxes for oil companies, his +100 billion investment into private companies developing clean energy etc. He has introduced blanket taxes like a tobacco tax that attack all sections of society, not the rich like was promised (is this how he wishes to finance his stimulus package?) What happened the elimination of capital gains taxes for small businesses (this was quietly brushed under the carpet and didnt feature in any bill). Still no reduction in health care costs. With regards to Gitmo, Obama produced no coherent plan to close the place down, it was shot down by the senate and military trials continue. Back to the stimulus, Obama's transparency and accountability promises really take a hit here, he promised the American public 5 days to read a bill before implementation (the stimulus was one of the most significant bills in modern American history and it was hastily rushed through with no public discourse, it is a disaster and clearly is a bill that was passed on the "politics of fear", something Obama promised to end). Lobbyists limited, are you joking, one example here , there are many more.
    Trillions of wasted dollars, appointments of influential lobbyists, back down on gitmo, broken promises. I'm just ranting on here, I could go on forever, you get my point. Next time you wish to call someone ignorant or retarded at least have some sort of point to argue.

  7. Damien5:07 PM

    If I was American I'd like Ron Paul in charge, I disagree with his economics, but he's a laugh. That's enough for me in this post-modern age, where image and rhetoric is more important than meaningful substance.

  8. Christy3:26 AM

    He had a lot of sweetners in his package - its inevitable, thats how bill get passed in an American congress. Don't act so surprised and apalled by it unless you feel the entire system should be re-written from scratch. Almost a quarter of the entire package (About a quarter trillion to be more precise) was tax relief aimed at the lower and middle class) Billions for medicaid and education, billions in infrastructure and incentives in green technology... etc.

    Medical costs have not went down but you seem to be surprised and given the past history of American politics thats just nonsense. Change happens very slowly in an American system. Lyndon Johnson and his Great society programmes of the 60s and Roosevelt's New Deal were an abberation, we're unlikely to see anything like that in the current Congress, especially since so many Democrats profess (To their constituents at least) to be fiscally conservative. Its his first 100 days, usually the most legislatively active of any presidency and this has been no different. You seem to be ignoring the positive and inflating the negative beyond recognition.

    I partly agree with you, spending your way out of a recession is dangerous and potentially stupid. But America is a country which is not at its debt limit yet. It can afford to take these risks which others can't. Its impossible to tell if it will have a detrimental effect on this depression, who knows, it might. But saying he hasn't achieved much is very uncharitable - he clearly has passed a lot of important bills and Presidential orders since coming into power. What else could you possibly expect? The political system doesn't allow for a practical revolution when in power. It takes time.

  9. Christy3:41 AM

    He was forced to backtrack on Gitmo. It will still be closed. As far as I can see its all over a legal technicality (Namely that they don't seem to have any files for most of them!) and that that needs to be resolved before it gets closed. You'd swear the way you were going on that Obama had a change of heart over Gitmo and thought it was a great place after all...

  10. Pageen11:01 PM realize you are talking to a non-US citizen who posts stuff he got from repoop sources. No matter what is done now, it will take YEARS to rebuild this country after it was delibertly wrecked by the rotten bush gang for their own and friend's profit.

    Your list of what Obama has done was good. He has been blocked at many turns, like the GITMO business. That place should be shut down and all those 'prisoners' sent to Texas. Serve them right it they managed to break out.

    A great deal of our problems, and other nation's problems are because people seem to think they can go on having lots of children. There are too many people on this earth now, we are going to have to figure out how to get people to stop breeding. Unfortunately, also, the ignorant are the ones who have too many.

  11. Pageen11:02 PM


    The two things I want to see done are 1. getting back to fair taxes for the wealthy, and 2. single payer health system. So...I write to the White House at least once a week, giving them my ideas about what should be done. Perhaps if all the people who disagree or AGREE with what comes out of the Oval Office would od that, we might get some of what we want (need) to be done. I hope so.

  12. Damien12:06 PM

    Stop people breeding? Lol, you fucking fascist, I suppose you advocate eugenics too?
    Them links where thrown up from nowhere, but if you want a real list, a quick comparative analysis of pre-election promises and what has been achieved or what "change" is in progress yields very interesting results, and not very supportive of Obama. That Egypt speech today was some pile of poo too, more style over substance. I enjoyed the irony of Obama talking about human rights and democratic ideals in a place that tortures innocent people and imprisons them (a state that Obama's administration supports). Mubarak, a tyrant that suppresses political opponents, no doubt hand picked the receptive audience, it was just another pointless exercise for Obama to do what he does best, talk (and he is a good speaker). More irony was evident in his point about engaging with states that promote women's rights (do please explain the U.S.'s continued strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia then Obama? He really needs to put some weight behind his words. Fair taxes to the wealthy won't happen either (limited change at best might occur).
    With regards to the Israeli settlements its no shift in policy, like I say Jack, this man has no substance so don't be worrying about your friends and their illegal settlements. Didn't Bill's administration ask for the same thing while settlements continued to expand? At least the neo-conservatives didn't try to hide the fact that they acted in purely America's perceived interests with glossy speeches like Obama (they weren't clever enough to achieve this).
    Obama benefits from high expectation by delivering these grand speeches and acting like a moral crusader (while not changing actual policy). Obama is like an easter egg, sweet on the outside, hollow in the inside.

  13. Christy10:47 AM

    I can agree with the idea of Obama as an Easter Egg, I really can. The whole Camelot thing was absolute nonsense. I confess I rooted for him all along because he was a) black (I don't hide it) b) Highly articulate c) Highly intelligent (Editor of the Harvard Law Review, Constitutional Law Professor etc.) d) Seemed to have a 'wild' youth and e) He is/was progressive.

    But thats the way American politics is. John F. Kennedy's most famous speech was 'ask not what your country can do for you'... Great oratory, empty rhetoric. Obama is similar.

    To be honest its what I expect. Its American politics. Hypocrisy bursts at the seams. I don't like it when people make emotive OTT statements about it though. Thats just silly :)

  14. Christy's remarks are ironic. Hypocrisy is exactly what Americans sneer at Europeans for. What's the opposite of Mutual Admiration Society? A Mutual Contempt Club?

  15. Christy2:31 PM

    Mutually assured contempt perhaps?